Voluntary humanitarian and emergency response organisations in the Norwegian total defence

FFI-Report 2024
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Tonje Grunnan Tord Apalvik Frida Skjei Stig Rune Sellevåg
The defence of Norway depends on well-functioning civil-military cooperation within the frame-work of total defence. The Norwegian Women's Public Health Association has commissioned the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI) to map the resources and role of volun-tary humanitarian and emergency response organisations in safeguarding the needs of the civil-ian population and supporting societal functions across the crisis spectrum. The report ad-dresses relevant issues based on a resource overview from the Norwegian Women's Public Health Association, Norwegian People’s Aid and the Norwegian Red Cross, interviews, existing professional literature and relevant reports and documents. Our report shows that voluntary humanitarian and emergency response organisations have rele-vant resources that can strengthen the ability of public emergency actors to handle incidents across the crisis spectrum. At the national level, the Norwegian Women’s Public Health Associ-ation, Norwegian People’s Aid and the Norwegian Red Cross can each provide several thou-sand volunteers with basic or specialised expertise to carry out emergency-related activities. There are, however, differences regarding how the voluntary resources are distributed in the dif-ferent geographical regions of Norway. Knowledge of one another’s resources and joint exercises are prerequisites for effective cooper-ation. Relevant authorities should consider how voluntary organisations can be better included in collaborative bodies at the central, regional and local level to ensure timely and efficient use of resources across the crisis spectrum. This will facilitate better shared situational awareness, better knowledge of one another's resources and better ability to interact. We may expect increased voluntary initiatives and efforts if a security policy crisis or a military attack were to strike Norway. Thus, increased voluntary initiatives should be planned for and consideration should be given to how this should be dealt with within the foundations of interna-tional humanitarian law. A closer look should be taken at how the Armed Forces can interact with voluntary humanitarian and emergency response organisations and contribute to the coor-dination of voluntary efforts in security policy crises and armed conflicts. There is also a need to look more closely at grey zone issues, particularly regarding how and who should coordinate voluntary initiatives at different stages in the upper end of the crisis spectrum. Regardless of how voluntary humanitarian and emergency response organisations are included in Norway's preparedness system, Norwegian authorities and the Armed Forces need to take into account legal obligations and the independence, distinctive characteristics and role of the different voluntary organisations.

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